They came back. For girlfriends who know the Distance like shoe sizes & salaries.

They sat in oversized arm chairs and talked about the Distance as it if were the 5th person in the room.

As if each one of them had felt the Distance curling close. As if they all had sat beside the Distance once or twice that month and watched it grow restless–switch, unswitch its legs— before it finally sighed and said, “Will you pour the cider or will it be me?”

They were growing. Changing. Moved into a season of chaos & clutter & Grownup Things and just trying to keep up with the curveballs this Babe Ruth of a Life had been known to throw.

There were salaries now.

Events with RSVP’s hitched to the bottom. Benefits– whatever that truly meant to  girls who just wanted to buy a good pair of heels and a salmon dinner.

There were bills arriving all the time. Less & less the mailbox was a place for surprise & serendipity; the mailman ousted from the “tooth fairy status” he held when it came Christmastime and the toy catalogs began pouring in.

There were obligations. And invitations. And all the “ations” it takes to make a girl grab her beach towel and head fleeting for the cape.  There was laundry to fold. Lunches to be prepped. Time slots to be handled like eggs on the stove. Careful not to burnout, careful not to overload.

There were calories. Suddenly, calories– poking out from the folds of tin foiled packaging– meaning something more mammoth than ever before as metabolisms grew slower than old men in velour. Dresses to fit into. Workouts to uphold. And nights to just say “screw it” and pour another glass.

There was life.

& the truth that it was quicker these days. & harder, much harder, to catch the good fistfuls of it. Like golden locks. Like clumps of sand closer to the water, perfect for sculpting the sand castles-turned-mansions by sunset.

There was the life & the fact that lived above it all–above the calories, the salaries, the RSVP’s & VIPs: No matter the Distance that curled at their feet, they never stopped holding this one prayer high, “Please keep them safe until I see them again.”

That was friendship.

Stripped off from school & college & clubs. That was friendship. Minus the solo cups and too tiny crop tops and foolish mistakes turned rich with laughter by the morning. That was friendship. When the overtime flooded in & babies started crying & foreign lands began cooing to the ones who had the Traveler’s Itch.

That was friendship to a group for girls who needed no explanation, no starting line, no rolling of the dice to indicate who would go first when they finally folded into one another again.

They came back. Carrying stories, they came back. Carrying stories like wise men from the east, they came back. Unearthing tales from the time capsules they buried in their own hearts until a time such as this. Unfolding & unfurling & every kind of “un” when it came to the conversations they’d snipped short like pixie haircuts just one week before, left as cliffhanger with the classic text message, “You have to hear this in person.”

They came back– from every angle of the map– with all the space & gaps & gap-toothed boys that filled the time slots less precious than this one.  The chance to be girls. Just girls again. In a world that made them executives & teachers & writers & auditors. Just girls with tales of the boys they’d loved. The lives so busy they’d forgotten to dream. & the pieces that had broken off between “the time I saw you last.”

Always & always, the girlfriends came back. For the edging out. The sorting out. The pulling apart the mess from the sane like the stray red sock snuck deep into the pile of whites upon whites. That’s what girlfriends were for. They came back, knowing more of this & that but never closing in on the questions they all ached to answer: who would go next. & why. When would this distance end. & how. When would friendship not be held to pinpoints on the map. & when would “together again” reach them after that night.

They came back, knowing nothing but a single prayer they’d learnt to whisper in an endless way, ” Please keep them safe until I see them again.”



32 thoughts on “They came back. For girlfriends who know the Distance like shoe sizes & salaries.

    1. written + inspired by the gals from college and the ones that I am surrounded by daily. This conversation, this whole experience, actually happened on Sunday night. It inspired the whole piece.

  1. This is beautiful. I only recently found your blog and I’m totally hooked.
    I don’t have that many friends that I treasure but there’s this one. I know we aren’t going to see for a long time and I miss her so much. I have those fleeting moments I pray ‘please keep her safe until I see her again’ and she happens to be a sickler.
    So I have my sad moments but we always keep in touch which is enough for me.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. This is beautiful and reminds me of a dear friend whom I wouldn’t be seeing for a long time. We do try to be in each other’s pockets as often as possible but there’s nothing like being in her embrace again.
    I learnt to pray/whisper ‘please keep her safe until I see her again’ especially when being a sickler doesn’t always give much time. 😦
    Amazing read.

      1. I’ll cradle a cup of chai and we can clink glasses through the screens and pretend that we are neither here nor there, but somewhere entirely between, in a little coffee shop halfway between.

  3. It’s going to happen very soon for me now. University applications are around the corner…never mind the fact that i don’t know where to go and what to do. But my friends, they aren’t so clueless and they have their bags packed (in their heads of course) ready to leave on that adventure i desperately crave too. But alas i have a feeling i won’t be so lucky.
    I think of what you’ve written far too much. What will happen once everyone leaves? Will we stay in touch? How will we stay in touch? 😦

    1. The first step is changing that perspective of yours. You have to believe in the direction you will head in. I know it will be brilliant + wildly worthwhile. One cannot know what the future holds but you have to hold tight to the truth: it will be something beautiful. Ever need to chat, you know where to find me.

  4. This spoke exactly to how I feel right now, about to fly away again, and leave my dear ones behind. Life goes on, things change, everything goes so quickly, but friendships – true ones – seem always to remain locked in some time-proof compartment, fed by such little nutrients as a text here, an email there, and occasional perfect weekends together. Thank you, Hannah.

  5. I’ve really got to get a grip because your posts make me cry EVERY TIME! Damn I am such a sap.

    Beautiful post. Love you forever!

  6. This is the most perfect description– and I’m going to send it to my three best girlfriends right. this. minute.

  7. I know this was written awhile ago, but I have read it twice today. I just said goodbye again to my own girlfriends, holding them close before goodbyes came. Distance edged in again, and this was just the perfect thing to reread. Thank you for sharing.

    “Please keep them safe until I see them again.”

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